It’s still winter (ish) in Northeast Iowa. 99% of the snow is gone (which is key), but with lows in the 20’s and highs in the 30’s to low 40’s, the water temp is still pretty cold. Don’t get me wrong, the fish are still there and still hungry, but not as hungry as they will be when the days start getting in to the 50’s. Expect a good Blue Wing Olive hatch just about every afternoon that temps get over freezing. You can fool them with a size 16, but be prepared to throw something smaller if the 16 does not work. I generally like to trail an emerger behind the dry and use the dry as my indicator. You should catch more on that soft hackle than the dry unless you have a perfect match with your dry.
Expect some midges too, so be ready with a Griffith’s Gnat or your preferred midge dry fly.
If you plan to fish all day, expect to drift nymphs for much or your outing. The midges and BWO’s are small, so small nymphs will work (size 20 to 16). But April and May are not too far away and we have our largest Mayfly hatches then, so a size 14 or 12 nymph works too. Pretty much anything fished deep should result in success.
Generally speaking, our fish are not practicing social distancing at present and are still schooled up in pods in some of the slower, deeper pools. That’s where you want to focus your nymphs… but, follow the rises when the hatch comes off.
Flies to Fish in the Coming Weeks
Nymphs: Copper John, Prince, Pheasant Tail, Hare’s Ear (#18 to #12), Caddis , Pink Squirrel (#18 to #14), Midge (#20 to #16)
Dries: Blue Wing Olive (#20 to #16) Griffith’s Gnat (#20 to #18)
Fishing report by Kent Kleckner of Bear Creek Anglers in Decorah, Iowa.